Last night, Jonathan Lerner, chair of the Conservation Advisory Council, presented Hudson's natural resources and open space inventory to the Common Council. In making the presentation, he reminded the Council that state enabling legislation directs CACs to complete such an inventory, and when it has been adopted by the local legislature, the legislature may also pass a resolution to transform the CAC into a Conservation Board, with a formal role in the review process of projects proposed in the city.
In presenting the document, Lerner explained that the CAC did not create the data presented in the inventory. Instead, they brought together information that existed in other places. He explained that the inventory defines the most important conservation issues and vulnerabilities for the city. He stressed that the inventory was not a plan. Rather, it should inform planning. He urged that the document be part of any conversation about zoning changes and a revised comprehensive plan. He advised that the Planning Board should be guided by the information contained in the inventory. He also stressed that the inventory is a dynamic thing. He noted that all the maps in the inventory, which he called "the spine" of the document, exist in digital form and can be updated.
Lerner told the Council that the CAC was working on a resolution adopting the natural resouces and open space inventory that would be presented to the Council in June. He told the Council that the CAC would not to asking to be designated a Conservation Board but rather wished to remain an advisory council and would be recommending that city policy be adopted to determine when issues should be referred to the CAC.
When Lerner had finished his presentation, Timothy O'Connor, who has been a steadfast critic of the CAC and the inventory, told the Council that the obligations of the Hudson River Estuary Program grant the CAC had received were fulfilled with the completion of the inventory and its presentation to the Common Council. The Council was under no obligation to accept or adopt the document, which he called "problematic, or even fraudulent." O'Connor's major issue with the inventory has been the sea level rise projections the CAC used, which in the past he has called "outrageously inflated" and warned they would encourage "potential fanatical resolutions."
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